A long-standing question in affective sciences concerns the exact relationship between ‘appraisal’ and what are usually identified as the bodily aspects of emotion. In contrast with earlier approaches, especially in the field of psychology, which proposed that appraisal should be treated as a disembodied cognitive phenomenon, there has subsequently been a tendency to implicate the body more actively: emphasis on bodily differentiation has increasingly helped to associate emotions with distinctive physiological profiles, while it is now acknowledged that changes in the state of one's non-neural body can influence the way we think as well as emotion experience more generally. Even so, as Giovanna Colombetti observes, today's appraisal theory still maintains that the cognitive component of emotion ‘remains’ largely ‘in the head, separate from the body’; consequently, the bodily aspects of emotion, though regarded as ‘instrumentally related’ to it, continue, in essence, to be seen as ‘extrinsic to the appraising process’: the body is at best ‘a means to the appraising process, not a part of it’.
The aim of this chapter is to explore the place assigned to emotions in the Hippocratic Corpus (fifth to fourth century BCE) by drawing attention to the remarkable fact that, despite the many detailed theories regarding the seat and function of the mind in classical medicine,6 we find no systematic account of what we would identify today, in an affective context, as an ‘appraising process’. When discussed by medical writers, emotions such as fear, sadness, surprise and happiness tend to be almost exclusively identified with their associated bodily symptoms; once we look beyond these symptoms, there is no ‘mind-stuff’ left behind out of which the emotion can be constituted (or, at least, doctors express no interest in exploring it in detail). This model of thought, as I propose to show, comes in contrast with Aristotle's cognitivist approach in the Rhetoric. According to Aristotle, while the capacity to experience a range of emotions is innate in our species, the actual experience of any given emotion is informed by the judgements and beliefs that engage it, giving it its ‘aboutness’; emotions, πάθη, in this interpretation should be understood to mean ‘all those things on account of which people change and differ in their judgements (μεταβάλλοντες διαφέρουσι πρὸς τὰς κρίσεις), and upon which pain and pleasure follow’ (Rh. 1378a19–23).